The Most Important Facts about Cholangiocarcinoma (Bile Duct Cancer)

Almost every tissue in the body can grow a different type of cancer. You have different types of adenocarcinoma in secretory tissue. There are different types of lymphoma in lymphoid tissue. Epithelial lymphoma can form in the skin and lining the inner organs. The most common type of liver cancer is known as hepatocellular carcinoma. But did you know that the bile ducts can also develop a type of cancer? It is called cholangiocarcinoma.

In this article, we will cover the most important facts about cholangiocarcinoma. After briefly talking about its features and causes, we will explore the risk factors, signs and symptoms, the usual workup, and the treatment options that doctors may recommend in such cases.

What is cholangiocarcinoma?

What is cholangiocarcinoma?

As mentioned in the introduction of this article, cholangiocarcinoma is a type of tumor that develops in the bile ducts. This tumor develops in the epithelial lining of the bile ducts, which is why the name ends with “carcinoma.”

There are different sections in the biliary tree, and we have bile ducts inside the liver and outside. Cholangiocarcinoma forms in what doctors call extrahepatic bile ducts, but they may also originate in bile ducts that still arise from the liver. Thus, we can see three types of cholangiocarcinoma depending on their location:

  1. Intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma, when the affected part of the bile ducts is still inside of the liver.
  2. Extrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma, when the affected part of the bile ducts is outside of the liver but adjacent to the organ.
  3. Distal extrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma occurs when the affected part of the bile ducts is outside the liver and separated from the organ.

The most common type of cholangiocarcinoma is called a perihilar tumor. These are located in a junction close to the gallbladder. They are considered a type of extrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma.